The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said the most recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) retail sales figures act as evidence that the Bank of England should not raise interest rates in the coming months.
ONS data indicated that the value and volume of retail sales were up 2.3 and one per cent year-on-year in December, representing the worst December since these records began in 1988.
Snow and cold weather kept many consumers away from the high street during the course of the month, prompting a significant number of retailers to close some of their stores and leaving the sector in a fragile state.
BRC Director General Stephen Robertson said: “These official figures back up the BRC’s own, which show 2010 ended on a flat note for many retailers.
“The unusually early winter weather compounded the effect of economic worries to make a difficult Christmas worse.
“The Bank of England must resist calls to increase interest rates while economic recovery remains so fragile.”
He added that the March Budget needs to be kept free of burdens for businesses, allowing them to continue creating jobs and aiding economic growth.
Figures from the ONS showed that retail sales values at predominantly food stores were 1.3 per cent higher than a year ago, with mainly non-food stores recording a 1.9 per cent hike in sales over the course of the year.
Household goods outlets appeared to be the hardest hit though, registering a 10.2 per cent decrease in sales over the period.